Vegetable Cacciatore with Whole Wheat Penne

Aired September 13, 2012

1/4 cup EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 medium portabella caps or 3/4 pound mixed sliced mushroom, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
1 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick across
1 cubanelle pepper, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced or finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, optional
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red or white wine, optional
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
A few leaves of basil, torn
1 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano (tangy, salty) or Parmigiano-Reggiano (nutty, salted butter flavor)
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and brown, 10-12 minutes. Add thyme, zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic, chili pepper or flakes, salt and pepper, partially cover and cook 7-8 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add paste and stir until fragrant. Add wine, if using, reduce by half; add stock and tomatoes, breaking them up with wooden spoon. Bring to a bubble then reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir in basil, reduce 30 minutes, until tomatoes broken down and sauce thickens a little.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup starchy water then drain pasta and add back to pot. Combine with half the sauce, half the starchy water and half the cheese. Toss 1-2 minutes to combine, adding a little more water if dry. Serve in shallow bowls topped with remaining vegetables and sauce, and extra cheese.

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